go beyond. here.

Feeling “at home”

I recently returned from my first ever visit to the Middle East. For the past five years my family and I have been a part of the Guild Training Network and have immersed ourselves in an Arab Muslim ethnic community in the greater Los Angeles area. As we have been seeking to incarnate the Good News and catalyze a Jesus movement from within the community, we have eagerly sought to learn from and understand the worldview of our neighbors. We have enjoyed hundreds of traditional Arab meals, celebrated dozens of significant cultural and religious events, and spent hours in meaningful (and often seemingly meaningless) conversations. We’ve learned a lot along the way…and have been changed for the better.

 

As I was recently in Jordan on my first trip to the region, I was struck by how natural and normal the environment felt. I almost felt at home. I did not feel the the typical initial “culture shock” that I have felt before traveling to other countries like Brazil, Peru and Mexico. I was not weirded out by men greeting each other with extended kisses on the cheeks, and it felt normal to see the majority of women covered with hijabs and avoiding the glances of men as I walked the streets.

 

I truly believe these past five years of living among and engaging the Arab Muslim community where we live is one of the biggest reasons for my feeling “at home” among a very foreign and drastically different culture than my own. The training and mentoring we’ve received as part of the Guild Training Network has definitely impacted the way we see the world and the way we are able to adjust to new cultures and places. And for this I am very grateful!

Church Planting: a journey to get to know the Father

I had a dream after visiting St. Francis’ tomb in Assisi in October 2005. In my dream a young church planter (apostle) approached me and asked me to train him. For some reason I knew that this was the second time that the young apostle had approached me (I did not recognize him–so I took it as a general application after I woke up.). He pressed me to coach him about how to plant churches. It occurred to me that he was only interested in the outcome of the training itself–planting churches.

I said to him: “I don’t think you understand the nature of church planting. You are looking at church planting as a task to do. Your heavenly Father is looking at it as a journey of getting to know Him. God really does not need us as much as we think He does. But he gives us tasks to do that are the avenues and vehicles for getting to know Him. For those of us who are church planters, the avenue to getting to know Him is planting churches. So we should view our task as the path to getting to know Him.

“Now here is the key–we never get to know Him through success. We get to know Him through humility–not success. I have had a lot of success in church planting, but no success has led to me getting to know Him better. The way to know God is through failure. I have rejoiced in my successes, but I have not been led to a deeper walk with Him or greater reliance on Him through success. But in failure I have agonized over my own contribution to the failure and been led to deeper repentance and faith. I have been led deeper into dependence in relationship with Him whereby I grasp new aspects to His glory as I have been driven to His throne through failure. It is in failure that we come to know more deeply our Heavenly Dad.

“I perceive that when you are approaching me to train you, you are doing so because you desire to be successful, not because you want to get to know your Father more deeply. If you want me to train you to get to know the Father I would be happy to—and if the journey through which He has called you is one of an apostle, I think I can be of some service. But realize that it would not be to avoid failure. Indeed my training may lead you into greater failure than you think. But it would also lead you into a deeper relationship with your Father and His son, Jesus. So if you desire for me to train you into a deeper relationship with the Lord (though the vehicle of church planting), I would be glad to. But if you only desire to be trained in church planting in order to be successful, then I will not do this.”

My dream ended with him walking away. I woke up with a profound sadness over him. I felt like Jesus must have when the rich, young ruler turned away. But I woke up feeling like the dream was spot on and that this was indeed what the Lord was calling me to—to train a new generation of apostles in getting to know Him.

(From Building Effective Apostolic Communities, by Dick Scoggins.)

Multigenerational Family Communities, Part 2

Multigenerational Family Community

(In my last post, Multigenerational Family Communities, we discussed the major theme of multigenerational families in Scripture and its great importance to the Kingdom of God. I’ll build on that post here.)

Six years ago my wife and I packed up our bags and moved from England to Southern California, where we have never lived, to join both our children in their families and their four children to learn how to build the Kingdom through multi-generational family. The early part of the journey has proved to be difficult, with one of the blessings being that my daughter and her husband have moved in with us with their first child (our fourth grandchild). Continue reading “Multigenerational Family Communities, Part 2”

Multigenerational Family Communities

Multigenerational Family Community

Perhaps because of my broken family, God’s familial nature and plan spoke strongly to me as I began to follow Him in the 1970’s. I was captivated by the Genesis story where God pursues mankind through families, from Adam and Eve, through Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and my favorite, Joseph. I was impressed early by God’s declaration to Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, NASB). Through the rest of the Old Testament and into the New, God pursues mankind through families. In Ephesians 3:15 Paul speaks of God as the Father of Mankind, and “through Him every family in heaven and earth derives its name” (food for more thought on the heavenly families!). Family is not some construct that man designed. Earthly family reflects the very image of God’s heavenly family! Continue reading “Multigenerational Family Communities”

Significant Times

When Jesus entered the world during the first century, the Mediterranean region was in the midst of significant historic events. The Roman empire, an expansive territory ranging from North Africa to Europe and Asia,  was under the “Pax Romana,” a time of relative peace among a wide variety of ethnic groups who were all under power of Rome.  Some notable aspects of life under the “Pax Romana”: Continue reading “Significant Times”

In a World of Strife, We Fight for Peace

In our world today, conflict seems to be everywhere. Whether between family members or between nations, people are fighting with each another.  On the micro-scale, people argue over spending, lifestyle, or beliefs. On the macro-scale, wars are waged between people as they fight for land, over religion, or resources.  Tensions seem to be rising, and polarization growing…what can we do in response to all the conflict? Continue reading “In a World of Strife, We Fight for Peace”